Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quality Over Celebrity

Monetization of art and the building of collections are often to the detriment of the work.  While I like a buck as much as the next guy, I recognize the conundrum that money poisons the well of creativity. 

Today, Impressionists paintings are easily shrugged-off by the serious contemporary collectors and critics as beauty for beauty’s sake.  Fluff is an even coarser description.  While the works of artists such as Monet and Degas are indeed pleasurable to look upon, they must be viewed primarily as explorations.  While artists such as Renoir grew old and comfortable in their style, a few of the Impressionists continued to explore painting and color theory with the same fervor that initially led the father of Impressionism, Edouard Manet, to create “The Fife Player” and “Luncheon on the Grass”.

Monet’s Water Lilies triptych (1915-1926) is the perfect example of overblown beauty that one can walk into and absorb into their skin, immediately recognizing the mental labor spent on its creation. The layering of colors make the canvas glow to a near effervescent shimmer, but technically Monet was simply an old man with failing eyesight, attempting to master the ultimate illusion of color.  This was not a one-off painting created for profit.  It took nine years to complete and the size, alone made it unsaleable to a single person or institution.  Once completed, it stood as his Opus in a life’s search for scientific qualities of light and color, visualized.  He was so enamored by the piece that he kept it in his personal collection until his death.

However, the beast that is capitalism has forced the separation of the pieces between three museums (St. Louis, Kansas City and Ohio).  How can the best interests of the work be held higher than the celebrity of the artist, if the institutions set-up to champion art for the people is mired in the politics of acquisitions and patronage?  Monet was only able to create this nine-year masterwork thanks to his success.  Yet, during his life he kept the painting close for constant re-observation, refusing to separate the triptych. -North

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not famous or Pure Art as a correlation of Pure Math and a counter-balance to Applied Mathematics and its relation to Representational Art

Pure Art is unique in the fact that it is creation without purpose.  Profit is a secondary purpose/by-product.  Contemporary aesthetic design (e.x. Apple products) falls under the profit spectrum.  Initially, art is created for the sake of art.

  • DaVinci created paintings such as the Mona Lisa for commission/income; but he placed the subjects into radical settings of his own design
  • Manet and the early pre-impressionists (such as Corbet and Goya) created sellable masterful works to illicit response rather than just fulfill a market need
  • Van Gogh as an artist represents the epitome of art for art’s sake.  He created a world of his own making... that no one was interested paying for; yet he continued to paint as if it were as important as food and air

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pure Art

Pure Art is the treatise that purely abstract concepts and intentions in the creation of art, naturally, still follow the physical laws of a specific multiverse.  Despite the seeming randomness of non-objectivism; basic physical laws (such as balance and composition) still affect aesthetics in the drive for pure abstraction.   The difficulty in widespread acceptance of this idea has more to do with the lifecycle of art through the ages than actual recognition of the basic concepts.  Pure abstraction is only a century old.  If we breakdown the exploration of Art to a timeline of human existence, this is what we are left with:
  • Cave painting was Art’s birth
  • the Greeks engaged our learning throughout its toddler years with the discovery of aesthetic perfections
  • the Renaissance and onward through the times of Ruben and El Greco, were Art’s turbulent rebellious teenage years where the rules were bent and broken but hidden behind the illusion of realism; the Catholic Church was the parental figure that punished and rewarded creative duties
  • while the often-considered rebels of early-twentieth century movements that ultimately led-to modern art are more accurately the mature embrace of early-adulthood and the natural human sense of experimentation with purpose
  • Art is now in middle-adulthood, that moment when understanding accompanies both a heightened comprehension of the effects of theorizing the future as well as recognizing past opportunities, both missed and embraced
Like theoretical physics, Pure Art redefines the differences between that which is true and what is possible.  If the human mind can conceive a unique idea or angle to existing laws, than that mere conception makes it a logical possibility or truth. - North

Friday, November 08, 2013


Planimetrics, Oil on Canvas, 12”x 72” 

Planimetrics is fundamental to the creation of maps, the representation of real-life features as seen on a three-dimensional Earth, and accurately portraying them on a two-dimensional surface.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

ABQ Downtown Series

"ABQ Downtown 1", Oil on Paper, 11"x15" (unframed)

"ABQ Downtown 2", Oil on Paper, 11"x15" (unframed)

"ABQ Downtown 3", Oil on Paper, 11"x15" (unframed)

"ABQ Downtown 4", Oil on Paper, 11"x15" (unframed)

"ABQ Downtown 5", Oil on Paper, 11"x15" (unframed)

"ABQ Downtown 6", Oil on Paper, 11"x15" (unframed)


Penistaja, Oil on Canvas, 28”x40”

Penistaja soils are extensive in New Mexico, where they have an extent of more than 1 million acres. They are very productive rangeland soils and are excellent for livestock grazing, wildlife habitat, and recreation. The Penistaja series of soils was named after a small farming and stock-raising community in northwest New Mexico. “Penistaja” is a Navajo name meaning “forced to sit.” Penistaja soils occur in a beautiful Southwest setting of sandstone mesas, snow-capped mountains, and desert grasslands.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Crescit Eundo - It grows as it goes

Crescit Eundo - It grows as it goes, Oil on Paper, 25”x 48” 

The Latin phrase, Crescit Eundo, can be translated as "Increases as it goes" or, more commonly as New Mexico's motto, "Grows as it goes."  The phrase is taken from Book VI of Lucretius' epic scientific poem De rerum natura, (On the Nature of Things).

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Resistance 2

Resistance 2, Oil on Canvas, 28”x40” 
- North

Monday, November 04, 2013


Resistance, Oil on Canvas, 28”x40” 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Festival of the Cranes

Festival of the Cranes, Oil on Canvas, 12”x36” 

Thursday, October 31, 2013


“Apache” Oil on Paper, 16”x20” (framed)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


“Comanche” Oil on Paper, 16”x20” (framed)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leda and the Swan

Zeus has come to seduce Leda in the form of a beautiful swan.  She will give birth to Helen of Troy, the woman over whom the Trojan War will be fought. In Ancient Greek mythology – and in William Butler Yeats’ poem – Leda's rape is taken as an indirect cause of war. 

The speaker in Yeats’ poem wonders if Leda acquired any of Zeus's knowledge as the swan overpowered her. Did she know she was having sex with a god? She didn't have too long to think about it, because as soon as the swan had gotten what he wanted, he let her fall to the ground as if he couldn't care less.
Leda and the Swan is a long-running theme in the genre of mythological painting.  There are no less than thirty-three known paintings by artists including:

Leonardo da Vinci
Paul Cezanne
Henri Matisse
Salvadore Dali
Cy Twombly

The most famous version was created by Leonardo da Vinci.  My modern interpretation is based upon the composition, color family and size of Leonardo’s lost masterpiece.  

"Leda and the Swan", Oil on Canvas, 28"x40", 2013

Leonardo da Vinci began making studies in 1504 for a "Seated Leda" painting, which was, apparently never executed. All we have are the few sketches and a copy by Giampietrino.  During the second stay at Milan (around 1508) Leonardo finished another version of the subject, this time Leda was standing and wrapped her arms around Zeus in a guise of beautiful swan, while four of their of children (who were Castor, Polux, Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra in original myth) were having their birth from swan-eggs. The painting showed a deep reference to nature study, while the babies were shown in kind of serpenticle poses as the true baby birds are in that pose while breaking out of egg-shell. Despite this, the female figure of Leda is not quite realistic in anatomy at all - maybe because this was the first and the only painting of the female nude that Leonardo ever finished.

The depiction must have been very successful because as the legend tells after the original painting was inherited by pupils of Leonardo; it was bought by a French aristocrat. He must have liked this painting more than his own wife, because she tore Leonardo's masterpiece apart and burned it in the 17th or 18th century.  - North

Monday, October 28, 2013

17 works

I currently have 17 paintings at the state of simulative near-completion.  Fifteen are oil on paper and two are oil on canvas.  They blur the line between oil sketches and the commonly held understanding of finished paintings.

The paintings are stretched on each of three doors, drying between stages/layers. - North

Friday, April 05, 2013

My Kinda Church

 Looked at a vacant church with the thought of converting into a live/work studio/gallery.  My daughter asked if I was trying to buy my way back-in (religion).  I told this to the owner and he said, "I was supposed to be Muslim, but every time I looked around the mosque, I just thought this would make a great house.  They wouldn't let me, so I left and bought a church instead."

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Angry or Flattered?

Two evenings ago, at dinner, my son asked an amazing question for his ten years.

Samuel asked, “If someone broke into your studio and only stole a single painting, would you be angry or flattered?”

I didn’t know how to respond.  It has taken two days of reflection, just to piece together a plausible answer.  What I believe differentiates me as an artist as opposed to a hobbyist is my ability to perfectly recreate my own vision, on demand.  With that in-mind, one could say that art must command a uniqueness that can only be effortlessly recreated by the original artist.  In other words, for art to be true it cannot live as a single one-off of material possession.  While it may never actually enter the process of duplication or regeneration by the artist, the capacity must exist during the life of the artist for it to have value.  Not monetary value, because that is nothing more than a reflection of fashionable hive-type thought.  Van Gogh’s work does not have inherent value if his contemporary markets are to be set-up as a reputable marker for success.

With that in mind, the only plausible answer is that one cannot take art from an artist, if someone could take my art, than that would nullify the fact that I am an artist.  A thief can only steal the physicality of the item from the business entity purposed for selling the idea.

I would have no ethical reason to feel cheated, because my art would still exist.  My only reasonable response is to be flattered.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Living Zen

All this madness started, a few years back, because a generous French artist named Elaine, stumbled across my blog and subsequent paintings.  She described my work as “Zen paintings” and I didn’t know how to handle that moniker.   I had run-away to Montana to create work without labels.  I saw myself in a fight for my life against the parameters of realism, abstraction and other draconian concepts of defining art.

I immediately read everything I could find with “Zen” in the title.  The most popular choice was obviously Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I read and reread that book at least four times over the course of two years.  I initially saw him as the quick-answer to my passion; however, over time I discarded more and more of his madman cathartic theories until I was left with only a single passage to build a life:
“The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there”

I systematically discarded every one of his half-cooked, hair-brained thoughts to find the simplistic genius I was seeking.  I realized, then, after forsaking 600 pages of his rants, that the true Zen masters are lost to history.  A legitimate guru, Zen master or even dharma bum will not waste the effort of recording his thoughts, theories, or passions. 

If the meaning of life is to follow your passion to success; then a dharma-stylized life is the antithesis of measurable success.   Yet the meaning of life is exposed through Zen?

I’d love to ask Richard Branson (Virgin) if he is happy because he is a rich bugger that can do whatever he pleases or if he is happy because of his work… or if he is happy.

What brings me joy? Well, obviously painting.  But I am equally as content listening to Robert B. Parker audiobooks, drinking gin, or watching British murder mysteries.  It is only the guilt that I feel for practicing useless tasks (pretty much everything listed after painting) that has me reflecting on this question.  But isn’t that self-reproach at conflict with seeking Zen?  Living in the moment and basically doing whatever one feels like (with regard for others, but complete disregard for long-term personal consequences) is my idea of perfecting Zen.